Flying Cars and Sewing Machines

February 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Here’s another great xkcd comic from the guy with a degree in physics:

(click the image to enlarge)

It seems to me those people who look into the future and see only environmental devastation have lost their sense of wonder. My maternal grandmother, who died in 1976, would be awestruck in wouldn’t know what to make of today’s world. Computers in our pockets. Speaking to (and seeing) loved ones thousands of miles away for free via Skype. The great Google machine that answers any question at any hour.

My grandmother’s name was Mary Katherine Tkachyk. She was a Ukrainian immigrant who didn’t need to be convinced that an electric-powered sewing machine was superior to her old treadle version. She served me my first TV dinners. Back then, prior to microwaves, they were hardly a gastronomic delight. But the alternative was spending hours rolling out dough and stuffing perogies.

Technology is good. Communication is good. As Matt Ridley argues in The Rational Optimist, the more brains that become connected to our collective mind, the better we become at problem solving.

Personally, I’m skeptical that humans have triggered dangerous climate change. I think the process by which the alleged evidence has been generated is unreliable. It lacks rudimentary checks-and-balances. It reeks of confirmation bias, nepotism, and self-serving politics.

But in the event that I’m wrong and Gaia is preparing to punish us for our transgressions my money is still on humanity. We’re amazing. If my late grandmother could spend an hour in my world I know she’d agree.

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This week marks the 35th anniversary of my grandmother’s passing.

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